Along with the popularity of carbonated beverages and fruit juice comes tooth damage. Acid and carbonation in these drinks can quickly eat away at tooth enamel, causing erosion, discoloration, and sensitivity. Tooth erosion happens when the enamel – the outer layer of the teeth – becomes weak or damaged. Acidic drinks are especially harmful to tooth enamel and should be consumed in moderation and accompanied by good oral hygiene.
Causes of Tooth Erosion
- Carbonated beverages: even if they are artificially sweetened these drinks are very acidic and can damage tooth enamel faster than you think.
- Fruit juice: juice also contains a lot of acid and even though it seems “healthy”, it can cause extensive tooth damage.
- Citrus, pickles, and honey: these should be eaten as a small part of a larger, healthy meal, in order to dilute the effects of the acid.
- Acid reflux and bulimia: both of these conditions can expose the teeth to stomach acid which can cause tooth erosion. Medical and dental treatment should be sought for both conditions.
Signs of Tooth Erosion
- There are many early signs of tooth erosion and it’s essential to catch the condition in this early stage, before severe damage occurs. Seek dental attention if you have sensitivity, mild discoloration, or rounded teeth.
- Sensitivity: one of the earliest signs of tooth erosion, teeth may become especially sensitive upon consumption of cold, hot, or very sweet foods and beverages. These painful twinges typically become more pronounced as enamel damage worsens.
- Discoloration: because tooth erosion causes exposure of the outer tooth core layer – called dentin – teeth may appear yellowed when the enamel becomes worn down.
- Transparency: there may be a slight “see-through” appearance to the teeth at the bottom edges.
- Cracks and roughness: the edges of the teeth may start to appear as though they have cracks.
- Rounded edges: as damage to the enamel advances, the edges may take on a rounded shape.
- Advanced discoloration: yellowing intensifies as damage progresses, due to the continued exposure of dentin.
How to Prevent Tooth Erosion
- There are a variety of ways that wearing of enamel happens, so it’s best to consult your dentist (like the experts at Quay Dental) in order to determine the best individualized plan for the health of your teeth. You can start by being cautious about acidic foods and consuming them in the right way when you do decide to indulge in your favorite things.
- Cut back on carbonated beverages or eliminate them altogether. Drink plenty of water, milk, and tea, but forego the sugar and honey.
- When you do have an acidic drink like juice or soda, drink them straight down – do not allow them to remain in your mouth by swishing or holding the liquid there. Using a straw allows the drink to pass directly to the back of your mouth, minimizing exposure.
- Likewise, don’t keep acidic foods in your mouth either. Chew them sufficiently, then swallow right away.
- Choose non-acidic snacks like cheese or carrots. Instead, add your acidic favorites to meals so that they aren’t sitting on the teeth all day long.
- If you can’t brush after consuming acidic foods or beverages, at least rinse with water as this will help to wash away and neutralize acid.
- Chew sugar-free gum – this not only helps to remove food particles but stimulates saliva production, which is good for oral health.
- Use a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- If you’re experiencing sensitivity due to erosion, your dentist may have you use a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitivity.
Enamel is irreplaceable, so take care of your teeth and they’ll take care of you!